I am interested in the way listeners uncover meaning in the face of ambiguity in what they hear — how do they infer relationships between words within a sentence and between sentences in a discourse? My research focuses on the interaction between these two types of inferencing, testing how the pragmatic relationships that listeners infer to hold between sentences can influence how they interpret words within a sentence.
As has been demonstrated in other areas of human cognition, the ability to
recognize and process certain relationships depends in part on the ability to
make predictions. Existing work on language has likewise found evidence that
listeners make predictions about upcoming sounds, words, and phrases; I work
on predictions listeners make about pragmatic outcomes — what cues
do listeners use to make predictions about where a discourse is going, what
relationships do they infer to hold between one sentence and the next, and how
do these predictions influence how they interpret the words and sounds they hear?